by Lucy Leitner
There are a thousand words that could describe Daggervision Films, but the photo below does a better job of displaying the blend of macabre, fun, and horror fandom that Daggervision is all about. Though steeped in all these things, the creative partnership between Brian Cottington and Johnny Daggers is founded in independence and the belief that the little guy still matters in horror.
In a way, Daggervision honors the heritage of Pittsburgh. Zombies were reinvented here by a film student with a small budget and a vision. There was no star power behind Night of the Living Dead, yet it revolutionized the genre. It stripped down horror to raw scares. Daggervision has a similar ideology — to create a uniquely creepy product that doesn’t rely on exploitative crutches like excessive gore and nudity.
In 2010, Johnny Daggers had completed and roughly edited the short film Samhain: Night Feast, but placed an ad on Craig’s List for someone to do more polished post-production work. Cottington, a recent graduate of the TV Video department at Robert Morris University, replied to the ad and a productive partnership was born, as opposed to what is usually conceived on Craig’s List. When Samhain won the Bastards of Horror short film festival at the Horror Realm convention, Daggers decided to launch a full-fledged production company. The next project was Caustic Zombies.
Daggervision is also responsible for horror anthology homage Tablet of Tales that served as Cottington’s master’s thesis at Chatham University. Daggers and Cottington are currently at work on Mon Anam Cara, a dark fairy tale with no dialogue aside from Hellraiser star and new Pittsburgher Doug Bradley’s narration. Local horror artist Steph Sciullo created the sets and production will begin in the spring to accommodate a 2014 release. Animation, puppetry, miniatures, stop motion, live action will be used to tell the tale of about an undead couple battling a dark force that has ravaged the land.
Aside from an active presence on social media and near ubiquity at local horror events, Daggervision also has a weekly podcast. After reading an article in which Kevin Smith said that podcasting was the new form of publicity and expression, Cottington decided that a weekly show was the way to go. Like Smith’s fanboy love of comics and Star Wars that infiltrates all his work, Cottington and Daggers are just as much horror fans as they are contributors to the genre.
They had some success on Live365, but have been garnering more interest and higher-profile guests — like John Kassir (the Cryptkeeper) and Bradley — since they were invited to join Spookshow.tv. The horror talk show airs live at 10 PM every Friday night and the podcast is posted on the Spookshow site the following week. During the show, Cottington, Daggers, and their guests talk about their projects, the state of modern horror, and, when I am a guest, apparently Terri Schiavo becomes relevant again.
The mission of Daggervision is to show that originality still matters in horror. It’s about creating something different instead of rehashing the same plots and contrivances. It’s about creating new villains instead of just putting Jason Voorhees in outer space, or even an Ilya Bryzgalov mask. Though the latter is an awesome idea that I hope to make a reality someday. I have no statistics to back this up, but it appears that the horror genre has suffered most from Hollywood’s recent play-it-safe attitude. More horror movies seem to be remade than any other genre. Successful low-budget American horror has been relegated to found footage films because indie horror moviemakers can simply not keep up with today’s special effects. But even something that was once innovative can quickly stale due to oversaturation.
That is where Daggervision comes in. They are horror fans making movies for other horror fans.
Learn more about Daggervision Films on their site: daggervisionfilms.com and Facebook
Check out the podcast at http://spookshow.tv/category/daggervision/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DaggerVisionFilmsHorrorTalkRadio